A New Kind of Healthcare
Direct Primary Care (DPC) is patient-centered medical care that you pay for as a subscription service as opposed to paying on a visit by visit basis. Patients join a practice and pay a pre-established fee in order to have ongoing access to their doctor as needed.
As the cost of health insurance rises, DPC is emerging as a way for families to access high-quality, affordable healthcare. This way of providing medical care goes back to the days when the small-town doctor would make house calls. They knew all of your medical history, were available when someone woke up with a stomach ache in the middle of the night and didn’t have a waiting room full of harried and frustrated patients, some who waited weeks for an appointment in the first place. You could even call them directly on the phone with your medical questions and concerns.
Since you had a long-term, ongoing relationship with this doctor, the risk of misdiagnosis and over-prescribing medicines was much less common as well. This was when medicine was more personalized and comforting.
What are the advantages of having a DPC Doctor?
Direct Primary Care offers unparalleled convenience you just can’t find otherwise. You will be able to access your physician with ease from the comfort of your own home or work, allowing you to bypass the receptionists, administrators, nurses and the traffic that typically stands between you and seeing your doctor.
Because DPC doctors are willing to communicate via phone, text or computer, you’ll no longer find yourself searching for parking, sitting in germ filled waiting rooms or dragging yourself halfway across town when you are under the weather. Working in appointments around your work schedule is no longer an issue and patients with limited time or mobility can now access all the care they need – without any of the hassles.
Having a DPC doctor provides a tremendous amount of security. No more googling symptoms at 3 am or wondering if you should be heading to the emergency room. Because your doctor is available to you whenever you need them, you can eliminate the guesswork and trade stress, anxiety and worry for the peace of mind that comes with knowing your personal physician is there to provide the medical care that you need.
When you are sick and have traditional insurance, it is unlikely you will be able to get an appointment with your medical doctor the same day. You could go to urgent care, take a number and finally meet with a provider who you’ve never met before. Or you just head to the drugstore and hope that cough medicine, vapor rub and a jumbo box of tissues is enough. However, if you had a DPC doctor, you could call them directly, tell them your symptoms and get a well-informed opinion, based on your personal medical relationship with this provider.
We’ve all been there and know that being able to stay home, on your couch, with medical care delivered to you is priceless.
What do DPC Doctors treat?
From acute illnesses such as ear infections and sore throats to chronic conditions such as Hypothyroidism, High Blood Pressure and Diabetes, DPC doctors offer a high level of personal care to help you manage your health conditions in the very same way that traditional physicians do- including ordering blood work, testing, imaging, prescriptions and more.
The American Academy of Family Physicians, notes the “defining characteristic of DPC practices is that they offer patients the full range of comprehensive primary services, including routine care, regular checkups, preventive care, and care coordination…”
They may even be able to dispense medications, but if not, likely have a way for you to get prescriptions filled affordably. If you end up needing to see a specialist, your DPC doctor will usually have a network of highly qualified specialists and surgeons they can consult with, securely and quickly.
Generally, 85-90% of your healthcare can be provided by a DPC doctor.
Who is DPC for?
DPC doctors are ideal for a wide range of demographics. There is a myth that retainer-based practices are only for the wealthy. However, while this type of practice may have been most widely known as a “concierge” or “boutique” method of care, other types of DPC models have emerged that typically have lower monthly fees. This allows for people of many income levels to have access to this form of care. DPC Doctors will be able to manage the majority of your health care needs.
This model may be even more beneficial to someone who requires more extensive management of a chronic illness. Keep in mind that most DPC Doctors are able to spend ample amounts of time with and researching for their patients and have the ability to obtain a consult for a patient with a specialist in a virtual manner and usually at no extra cost to the patient. This access to specialists could possibly eliminate the need for a costly specialist office visit, or a long wait for insurance to approve a second opinion.
Do I still need insurance?
Direct Primary Care is an affordable solution for those concerned with healthcare costs. That being said, DPC is not a replacement for medical insurance. Having health insurance in addition to a DPC membership is essential. Where DPC can save you money on routine expenses such as office visits or laboratory testing, it will not provide coverage for true emergency care.
Were you to find yourself in an emergency situation like a heart attack, or a severe injury requiring surgery you would still need medical insurance to cover the costs of your hospital treatment.
As mentioned above, the DPC doctor will likely be able to handle the bulk of your health care, providing day to day ongoing treatment and advice that is the key to a healthy lifestyle, and all of the benefits that come with a healthy body.
DPC care can also be combined with something called a Health Sharing Plan. These are organizations that allow individuals to share medical expenses in a predictable manner – some even offer discounts to DPC members.
At its core, Direct Primary Care is a return to patient-centric care where doctors can do what they were meant to – heal, as well as helping patients save money along the way.